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Stop stalling

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What a surprise!

The New York State Public Service Commission has found yet another reason to procrastinate making a decision on how to address the pending shortages of usable phone numbers in the 315 area code. Since 2007, the PSC has warned that the 18 counties using the 315 area code will run out of phone numbers.

The most-popular remedy calls for an overlay district to be created with a different area code. Any new phone numbers assigned after a certain point will be given this area code. Those who use 315 already will continue to do so.

But the PSC can’t seem to drum up the courage to pull the trigger.

“The New York State Public Service Commission announced today it was putting on hold its proceeding to determine how best to create an additional area code in the 315 area code region,” according to a news release the PSC issued Thursday. “The commission made its decision based on a revised forecast from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, the agency responsible for administering area codes, extending the time needed to the third quarter of 2016 for a new area code in the 315 area.”

“Due to the potential disruption that could be created when a new area code is added, it is prudent to temporarily postpone this proceeding given that extra time now exists before a decision must be made,” PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman said in the news release. “However, as a result of all of the comments and suggestions we have received during the past months, we should be able to restart the proceeding quickly should the need arise.”

There are several factors that should dominate this discussion.

First of all, usable phone numbers in the 315 area code will eventually run out within the next several years. Secondly, most people who have voiced views on this problem have said they prefer to see an overlay district created. Finally, there is going to be disruption whenever the new plan goes into effect.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter if we have a little more time before the numbers run out. There is nothing that says a plan has to be implemented right at the moment the last number is taken. So the PSC might as well get things going right now rather than putting off the inevitable time and again.

Waiting to experience disruption a few years down the line isn’t going to make that disruption any less burdensome. The only benefit of postponing a decision is that the PSC can say — for the moment — that it isn’t forcing people and businesses to endure hardships.

It’s also likely that once we get closer to the doomsday run-out date, the PSC will want to hold yet another round of hearings before making a decision. Members should stop stalling the inevitable by making a decision now, setting the appropriate deadlines and letting people know what’s coming.

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